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The tragic story of Joe Meek

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posted on Dec, 9 2010 @ 11:56 AM
I have just started getting into Joe Meek. Before, the only song i knew from Joe Meek was telstar. I knew nothing about him, only the tragic way his life ended.

Joe Meek was born April 5 1929. He grew up in a small town Newent. When he was a boy, he loved experimenting with record players and and radios. He loved to take them apart and seeing how they worked.

In 1953 he moved to london and started working for IBC studios. Here he learned the basics of being a recording engineer. He loved to add his own sonic touch. Sometimes he would do this without the permission of the artists who he was recording.

These experiments resulted in techniques that music today takes for granted. He was truely the first to do what he was doing in the industy.

Joe moved into three-floor flat above a leather-goods store in Holloway Road, Islington, London. Here is where in the begining he would have great success.

Joe Meek created, or produced some of the biggest hits of the time and worked with many known artists at the time including Gene vincent,tom jones,lonnie donegen,petula clark,anee shelton,frankie vaughan, to name but a few.

But the song that made him was Telstar. Telstar was a huge hit, and was the first number one for a uk band in America. The Tornados earned him both an Ivor Novello Award and the title of becoming the first ever single recorded by a British group to hit #1 in the US Billboard chart. The single also spent five weeks at the top of the UK charts.

Joe Meek should have been set up for life with the success of telstar, but this was not the case. A French composer, Jean Ledrut, accused Meek of copying telstar.from "La Marche d'Austerlitz", a piece from a score that Ledrut had written for the 1960 film Austerlitz.

"Have I the Right?" would be Joe's last big hit. Joe had gained a reputation as being difficult to work with, he was very controlling and would often become angry and violent if musicians didn't do as he told them to. As the hits dried up, Meek sunk into deep depression. Meek was also gay. Being gay in the sixties was not easy because being gay was illeagal at the time.

Meek became paranoid. He was convinced that other record labels were putting bugs in his studio, so they can gain information on how he made his music. His paranoia was getting worse, and he started to question everyone who was at his studio. His drug use was getting worse and the hits started to dry up. There was a huge change with the music scene. Bands like the beatles and the stones were the new thing, and Meek was finding it hard to keep up with the new trends.

It got to the point where money ran out and he could not pay the rent. Im sure this would not have been the case if he recieved the royalties from telstar. His landlady Violet Shenton was always moaning about the noise coming from above. Sometimes banging on the ceiling while meek was recording.

On 3 February 1967, Meek killed his landlady Violet Shenton and then himself[ with a single barreled shotgun.

I am facinated by Joe Meek, and being a musician myself, i can see how much of a genuis he was. But its hard to truely appreciate the man, considering he murdered someone innocent before turning the gun on himself. I often think what those last moments were like, and why he killed Violet Shenton. I know he was a broken man, and you could say that he had a complete nervous breakdown.

Three weeks after his death, the lawsuit against Meek was ruled in Meeks favour. Austerlitz was only released in France, and it was very unlikely that Meek was aware of the piece of music.

This is a very tragic story, and even though he ended his life, and someone elses, i can't help but feel sorry for him, and if things happened in a different way, then this would have never happened.

edit on 9-12-2010 by Jay-morris because: (no reason given)

edit on 9-12-2010 by Jay-morris because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 9 2010 @ 12:17 PM
Thanks for the interesting thread. That is a tragic story. I'm sure things would have turned out a lot different had he not been sued.
Telstar is one of my favorite songs.

posted on Dec, 9 2010 @ 12:31 PM
reply to post by Skid Mark

Thanks for the reply. Yes, it is a very tragic story. He was a genius, a very flawed genius though. If he had just taken his own life, while still bad, is not have bad as taking someone elses life. I know he could not pay the rnt, and the lease for the house was almost up. He became a recluse, and hardly left the house. I think this was the last straw for him, and in a moment of insanity, he shot her. I think he knew straight away what he had done, and thats why he took his own life straight after.

posted on Dec, 9 2010 @ 12:38 PM
reply to post by Jay-morris

That song is horrible.


posted on Dec, 9 2010 @ 12:41 PM
reply to post by ATC_GOD

I can understand people not liking the song, but you have to remember, when the song was out, it the sound was fresh and new. The way Meek got his sounds were truely amazing for its time. I like the song. There is just something about it.

posted on Dec, 10 2010 @ 04:11 AM
There is a good documentery on your that looks into the life and death of Joe Meek. Its a very interesting watch.

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